THE BASICS: JoAnn Falletta led the BPO in music by Enescu, Hailstork (with pianist Stewart Goodyear) and Tchaikovsky in a Friday morning “Coffee Concert” at Kleinhans Music Hall located at “3 Symphony Circle” Buffalo, 14201 where Porter Avenue, Richmond Avenue, North Street and Wadsworth meet at a roundabout. The concert repeats this Saturday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Visit www.bpo.org or call 716-885-5000. Duration: 2 hours with an intermission. Saturday night concerts have a lobby bar in the Mary Seaton Hall. Proof of vaccination and mandatory masks.
THE SHOW: African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork was born in 1941 just outside of Rochester, studied with David Diamond and also studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and Quincy Jones, to tell you what what does the name Boulanger mean). Well, Mr. Hailstork, or “Dolph” as JoAnn Falletta calls him, was present at Kleinhans Music Hall on Friday morning when the audience and orchestra applauded his 1992 Piano Concerto. To quote from star wars, Karate KidWhere Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – “The student has become the master.
At the mighty Steinway for the Hailstork Concerto was African-Canadian pianist, Stewart Goodyear, who was so confidently up to the task of playing this sometimes bluesy, sometimes rhythmic, sometimes harsh and sometimes beautifully lyrical concerto. Very satisfaying. (Please read another opportunity to hear Hailstork’s music below.)
The concert opened with a musical tribute to the BPO’s music librarian for 36 years, Pat Kimball, who ultimately succumbed to lung cancer this year.
The concert opened with a musical tribute to the BPO’s music librarian for 36 years, Pat Kimball, who ultimately succumbed to lung cancer this year. JoAnn Falletta’s onstage commentary and program insert “In Memoriam” opened our eyes to an unnoticed but essential part of every gig, every rehearsal, every recording. My mother was a librarian; I have known a number of librarians; so for me, the most telling comment was the printed quote from Principal Pops bandleader John Morris Russell: “His wry smile and wicked sense of humor were a wonder to behold. I can totally appreciate that.
Once again, I’m here to tell you that as a classical music radio host for 24 years and who has repeatedly broadcast Enesco’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, there is no substitute for a live performance. . It was the first scheduled work on the program and it was crazy, with an 8-man horn section and stunning solos from all the main actors, including Nikki Chooi and Caroline Gilbert. There’s so much going on with this wild gypsy music that you can only appreciate it by being in the room where it’s happening.
(Speaking of Chooi, his former teacher, violinist Ida Kavafian, was in town Tuesday to perform in the Buffalo Chamber Music Society concert series and was eager to highlight from the stage what treasure we have in him. I had want to shout “We know! We know!)
The concert concluded with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 “Fate”, which Falletta conducted from memory, with no score in front of her.
The concert concluded with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 “Destiny”, which Falletta conducted from memory, without a score in front of her. You may not know his six symphonies, but you know his ballet “Casse-Noisette”. Remember how every section, every dance, is unmistakably Tchaikovsky, but is it so different from every other section, from every other dance? Well, that’s one of the reasons his fourth symphony is so entertaining. The first movement is huge, and when it’s finished I felt satisfied, but there was a lot more to come, including the melodic Andantino section, the Scherzo pizzicato and the finale, basically a theme and variations with great , great finish.
FOLLOWING: BPO Assistant Conductor Jaman E. Dunn conducts SPOTLIGHT ON BLACK COMPOSERS with soprano Sirgourney Weaver and several BPO musician soloists in music by Adolphus Hailstork, William Grant Still, Margaret Bonds and Ulysses Kay. Not at Kleinhans, but at Rockwell Hall on the Buff State Campus, presented by Buffalo Opera Unlimited, both programs will take place next weekend, Friday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 27 at 2:30 p.m. You can listen to a Zoom conversation I had with Jaman E. Dunn here.